The Royals also received outfielder Jason Bourgeois in the deal that sent Minor League pitcher Kevin Chapman and a Minor League player to be named to the Astros.
"Humberto Quintero is a guy we like as a solid catch-and-throw guy and has a lot of experience at the Major League level and gives us the depth that we need at this point," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
Quintero, 32, fills a need created when the Royals' starting catcher, Salvador Perez, underwent knee surgery that might keep him out of the lineup for half the season. Quintero is likely to share the catching job with Perez's backup, Brayan Pena.
"We're evaluating that, but we acquired him to be a guy to catch two to four days a week and Ned [Yost] is going to have to mix and match it with whoever we ever ultimately decide is the other catcher when we break camp," Moore said.
There's little doubt, however, that the two catchers will be Pena and Quintero. Others in the picture since the injuries to Perez and Manny Pina have been Triple-A catchers Cody Clark and Max Ramirez.
Primarily a reserve for the Astros, Quintero has been out with a bulging disk in his back but returned to action over the weekend in Florida. Last season, he played 79 games and hit .240 for the Astros with two homers and 25 RBIs.
Quintero signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Astros for this year but was behind Jason Castro and Chris Snyder on their depth chart. He's highly regarded defensively and has a very strong arm.
In two seasons with the San Diego Padres and seven with the Astros, Quintero has played 379 games with a .234 average, 15 homers and 94 RBIs.
Bourgeois, 30, is a right-handed hitter with good speed. A second-round Draft choice of the Texas Rangers in 2000, he surfaced with the Chicago White Sox in 2008, played in 2009 with the Milwaukee Brewers and spent the last two years with the Astros. Last season, he played in 93 games and batted .294 with 31 stolen bases.
Royals scouts "like his versatility a great deal," Moore said, "and he's been very successful against left-handed pitching - I believe he hit .396 last year. And 31-of-37 in stolen bases, and we like the way he potentially matches up."
In four big league seasons, Bourgeois batted .262 in 192 games with two homers and 22 RBIs. In his 12 Minor League seasons, he piled up 256 steals.
Chapman, 24, split the 2011 season between Class A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He was the club's fourth-round Draft choice in 2010 out of the University of Florida.
"He's a terrific left-handed pitcher and has a chance to be a solid guy at the Major League level," Moore said.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Royals placed Perez and Pina, who also underwent knee surgery, on the 60-day disabled list.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.